2002 Fermilab Bird Report
For more information see the
"Birds of Fermilab" web pages.
The 2001 Christmas Bird Count produced fairly
average numbers for on-site species and individual counts, even though the
totals for the count circle were among the highest on record. Nevertheless,
there were some surprises. The most remarkable find was a female
Yellow Grosbeak which was found in the
pines north west of the village. This is only the second time this Central
American species has been recorded in the northern states, which leads us to
suspect that the bird was more likely to be an aviary escapee rather than a
wild vagrant. The count also produced the site's first ever December record for
Eastern Bluebird and only the second
count record of Lapland Longspur.
For reasons unknown, both Long-eared
and Short-eared Owls were absent from
the site again this winter. However we were compensated by the presence of
Ross's Geese on Main ring Lake through the
remainder of the winter and early spring.
Spring migration was fairly mediocre this year. Most of the usual migrants were
present but the numbers were less than impressive. There were some exceptions
however and the two most notable were
Peregrine Falcons which were observed on
seven occassions throughout winter and spring, and
Yellow-throated Vireos which
were seen much earlier and more frequently than ever before. There were also
some interesting late waterfowl records including the first site breeding
record for Hooded Merganser. This
occurred on May 26 when a female was seen in the western part of the main ring
with 10 chicks.
The most interesting observations over the summer related to
Henslow's Sparrows. These "state
endangered" birds were found on site earlier than ever before and in several
new locations. They first arrived on site in early May in the grasslands along
Eola rd (ELM 11) a location where they have been observed in the recent past.
However on May 14th birds were also found in the restored prairie inside the
Main Ring and by the end of the month three territories were identified inside
the main ring, a colony of seven were located in ELM 9, several more were found
in ELM 11 and a single territory was found just east of the garden club.
Another wave of arrivals occurred in mid June with birds appearing throughout
ELM 16 and also in ELM 15. In order to try and understand the bird's habitat
preferences, a summer student in the Preservice teacher Program was assigned
the task of studying them. This study raised more questions than it answered
with the only common factor in the habitats being the absence of a recent burn.
This was most evident for the birds inside the Main Ring. Their choice of a
forbe rich restored prairie was contrary to much of the existing lore
surrounding the species and probably had a lot to do with the fact that that
particular section of prairie had not been burnt in the past three years. This
also vindicates the management plan for the Eola rd. grasslands which calls for
annual mowing rather than burning.
Other important finds during the summer included a
King Rail in the Main Ring. This is only the
second time this species has been recorded on site and may even be indicative
of nesting. The marshes inside the main ring appear very suitable for this
"state endangered" species. The news concerning our other "state endangered"
nesting species, the Upland Sandpiper
was less encouraging with only one sighting recorded for the entire summer.
Low water levels throughout the fall meant that the village lakes provided good
habitat for migrating shorebirds. Consequently many good records were produced.
Highlights included American Avocets,
a Sanderling, a
White-rumped Sandpiper, and
large numbers of American Pipits. Of
course there were other rarities found this fall which did not result from the
mudflats. these included an
American White Pelican, a Franklin's
Gull, a Harris's Sparrow and more
|American White Pelican